Reflections on the McNair Scholars Symposium

Emily

In August 2007, after an intensive ten-week summer research experience with the McNair Scholars Program, I attended the annual California McNair Symposium at the University of California, Berkeley. What an incredible experience!

As we approached Dwinelle Hall on the first day, we were greeted with a bright blue banner that read “Through These Doors Pass the Greatest Undergraduate Researchers in the World.” It was very exciting to have this opportunity. The McNair scholars I met at Berkeley were intelligent, hard working and passionate about their research. There were so many different disciplines represented it was impossible to come away from the conference unaffected.

Before attending the McNair Symposium at Berkeley, I was nervous; I wasn’t confident that my research was “good enough.” And I was worried the other researchers attending my presentation wouldn’t take me seriously. To my wonderful surprise, just the opposite occurred. I overcame my nerves and was able to effectively—and passionately— talk about something I had completely dedicated myself to over the summer months.

Audience members asked questions, and we engaged in a truly scholarly discussion. The question that still intrigues me was: “Do you think with the research you are doing, someday you or others could inform all types of high school athletes about what they may experience as a college athlete if they choose to sign and play college sports?” That question suggested an entirely new career path that I hadn’t thought of previously.

Not only did I gain more confidence in my research— and my presentation skills—but I learned about other disciplinary research methodologies as well. Did you know that only 20% of plastic that is put in recycle bins is actually recycled? Something definitely needs to be done to allow all that plastic to be recycled!

What I enjoyed most about attending the conference was the opportunity to meet new people, listen to their research and hear what their plans are for graduate school.

I gained a lot from attending the California McNair Symposium conference. The work I did all summer was definitely worth it!

by Emily Haferbier, McNair Scholar, Sociology

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